Continental Airlines to appeal Concorde crash judgement

Continental Airlines is to appeal today’s court judgement that blames the carrier for the crash of an Air France Concorde in Paris in 2000.

A court in Pontoise fined the airline €200,000 (£169,394) and ordered it to pay Concorde’s operator Air France €1m in damages following the trial, which ended in May 2010.

Welder John Taylor was given a fine and a 15-month suspended prison sentence while his former supervisor Stanley Ford and three French officials were found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

The crash killed all 109 passengers and crew and four people on the ground when the airliner burst into flames shortly after take-off from Charles de Gaulle airport in July 2000.

In 2004, French investigation agency BEA concluded that the crash was caused by a metal fragment that fell onto the runway four minutes earlier from a Continental DC-10 plane bound for Houston, and burst the Concorde’s tyres, rupturing the fuel tank and setting the plane on fire.

In a statement, Continental Airlines said: ‘Portraying the metal strip as the cause of the accident and Continental and one of its employees as the sole guilty parties shows the determination of the French authorities to shift attention and blame away from Air France, which was government-owned at the time and operated and maintained the aircraft, as well as from the French authorities responsible for the Concorde’s airworthiness and safety.

‘To find that any crime was committed in this tragic accident is not supported either by the evidence at trial or by aviation authorities and experts around the world.’

Air France, plaintiff in the Concorde trial, said it welcomed the decision of the criminal court, which recognises Continental’s full criminal and civil liability in the accident.